JOHANNESBURG – Tennis SA (TSA) is looking to the take the sport from the hard courts to the sand with the launch of four beach tennis tournaments that will be hosted in some of the country’s top vacation spots over the December holidays.
TSA on Wednesday announced it had partnered with KIA Motors to launch a high-profile International Tennis Federation (ITF) beach tennis event circuit in December.
The KIA Summer Slam beach tennis tour will take place over two weeks, and will consist of four ITF ranking tournaments.
The four events will be held in Cape St Francis, Knysna and Plettenberg Bay, with the first tournament taking place between December 8 and 10.
Plettenberg Bay will host the last two events, including the tournament final from December 18 to 21, which will be the fifth richest beach tennis events in the world in terms of prize money.
The series will have a total prize money pot in excess of $35 000.
TSA chief executive Richard Glover said the sponsorship would be for three years.
“We have built up a great working relationship around their Davis Cup team sponsorship and their involvement in beach tennis promises to be even more exciting,” Glover said.
“Beach tennis is a fun and simplified version of tennis, and offers a great entry point into our sport for first time players. Indeed, we see the format as being a powerful tool for tennis development.”
TSA officially launched beach tennis earlier this year and featured at the ITF Beach Tennis World Team Championship.
Davis Cup player Tucker Vorster has made the switch to the beach alternative, playing a significant role to secure the best finish by an African nation at the tournament finishing 18th.
The format is played on a standard beach volleyball court, with Beach Tennis paddle bats instead of racquets and slightly depressurised tennis balls.
The new partnership will also see beach tennis courts being built at existing TSA Growthpoint development centres in Soweto, Atteridgeville, eThekwini and Cape Town respectively.
“The sponsorship covers three broad areas which are some big international events. It also covers the team sponsorship of the South African beach tennis team, while there is also a focus on grassroots development,” Glover said.
Summer Slam beach tennis tour
December 8 to 10: Cape St Francis
December 12 to 14: Knysna
December 15 to 18: Plettenberg Bay
December 18 to 21: Plettenberg Bay